In a market year, $7 trillion vanished

Jan. 1, 2009 at 8:28 AM
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NEW YORK, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Six years of accumulated wealth in U.S. stock markets vanished in 2008 as a sustained bull market turned bearish and violent, records show.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 4,488.43 points or 33.8 percent during 2008, The New York Times reported Thursday. The broader index, the Standard & Poor's 500, fell 39.5 percent.

In the market year, $7 trillion vanished, the Times said.

For some, the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September was the moment a sour market turned moody and unpredictable. Since the bank went under, the S&P index rose or fell more than 5 percent in 18 trading sessions, a feat it had accomplished only 17 times in the past 53 years, S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt said.

Few were spared in a year in which the center of financial influence shifted from Wall Street to Washington.

"The only willing risk taker is the government," said William H. Gross, chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co.

Many are hopeful a new stimulus package will kick start a slow recovery -- with the emphasis on slow.

"I just don't think that they can push a button and have the economy and the stock market turn around," Martin Fridson at Fridson Investment Advisors said.

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